HEC leaders believe in tangible action and the power of collective effort. Their focus is on finding, creating, or accelerating community solutions that work, whether they are leading or supporting the effort.

Hawai‘i Community Foundation’s CHANGE framework was adopted by HEC as a way to organize cross-sector partnerships using a common set of metrics to quantify their results. Current HEC initiatives focus on creating a resilient economy, building a talent and investment base, and joining with others to lift the socioeconomic status of all of Hawai‘i’s people.

HEC supports leaders in developing a common agenda and help to drive shared actions to solve community issues with a focus on creating community resiliency and promoting economic growth:

Early Childhood Learning

Early childhood learning is vital to the healthy development of all children and their future prospects, and yet 54 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in Hawai‘i — approximately 20,000 keiki — are not enrolled in nursery school, preschool, or kindergarten. Jack Wong of Kamehameha Schools noted at the 2019 Hawai‘i Executive Conference that “if we build preschool seats that the current pace, it will take us 47 years before we can meet the full need.”

In an unprecedented show of unity, dozens of community, business, labor and state representatives introduced a joint package of bills—the 2020 Cost of Living Initiative—that includes wages and tax benefits, affordable housing, and early learning opportunities for keiki. The bill helped to set a common goal of ensuring high-quality preschool for students by 2032. Nonprofits and public leaders across the state continue to refine elements of the strategy, with more assistance from HCF needed to ensure the goal is met.

ClimbHI Bridge

Born from the collective buy-in of HEC leaders, ClimbHI was created to educate and inspire high school students about future career paths and the process necessary to achieve their goals.

ClimbHI Bridge is a revolutionary online tool that makes it easy for educators to connect with businesses through real-world opportunities that can directly benefit students via:

  • Guest speakers and teachers
  • Mentorships
  • Site visits and other events
  • Job shadowing
  • Project-based learning
  • Career fair and job readiness activities
  • Judges and coaches
  • Internships
  • Jobs
  • Scholarships and awards
  • Materials and resources

In its first seven months of operation, ClimbHI Bridge reached more than 12,400 students. A total of 2,900 educators and 425 businesses have onboarded and the numbers continue to increase. Learn more [about the program and how to support ClimbHi]

TRUE (Technology Readiness User Evaluation)

TRUE is an initiative of HEC that is building pathways for businesses to expedite their adoption of technology and accelerate it through roundtable discussions, events, and workshops. By fostering collaborations between member organizations, students, private companies, and state agencies to solve real-world problems, TRUE is helping local businesses begin to thrive in a digital economy.

Leveraging Hawai‘i’s limited IT resources and investments across sectors and industries will ultimately help the state’s economy become more diversified and sustainable. TRUE’s impact on real-world problems is already being demonstrated across a number of sectors:

  • Community Innovation Mentorship Program (CIMP) 1.0 - Modernizing and Digitizing the Pet Retrieval Process at HNL
    Computer science students from UH College of Engineering developd a tech-based solution to ease a pain-point at the Honolulu International Airport Animal Quarantine Holding Facility. Utilizing programming frameworks and methodologies, the wait time was significantly reduced for pet owners. This project was a collaboration with TRUE, DataHouse, Transform Hawai‘i Government, the Hawai‘i Technology Development Corporation, and Entrepreneurs Sandbox.
  • Community Innovation Mentorship Program (CIMP) 2.0 - Preserving Hawai‘i's Supply of Fresh Water
    A prototype solution was developed by UH College of Engineering and Waipahu High School students with mentors and sponsors from DataHouse, Belt Collins, Transform Hawai‘i Government, and TRUE to help landowners manage their stormwater run-off.
  • Optimizing the Customer Experience
    Member organization Servco drove innovation internally across its departments using advance systems and services to improve customer experience, increase engagement during COVID, and gain intelligence that drives business decisions. TRUE’s sharing of this use case resulted in First Hawaiian Bank implementing one of the services as a result of learning about Servco’s experience.
  • AI for Call Center
    Central Pacific Bank customers can now experience a quick, intuitive, problem-solving process using artificial intelligence (AI). With customer wait times decreased and service channels improved, customer service costs for the bank went down. TRUE's sharing of this use case resulted in other local companies adopting this technology: ProService, Simplicity HR, and Entrepreneurs Sandbox.

    Upcoming opportunities:
    • Robotics process automation
    • Cloud Infrastructure
    • Artificial Intelligence/machine learning
    • eSports gaming and career opportunities

    TRUE added five new member organizations and grew to a total of 20, growing its membership in 2021 by more than 35 percent. More than 20 events have been organized reaching over 2,100 people.

Learn more [about the TRUE initiative]

The challenge of building a more resilient economy and state is tied directly to building a skilled workforce in recession-resistant industries. Multi-sector partnerships were formed to scale and support the training and development of a skilled workforce with the goal of promoting economic advancement for individuals, economic recovery for the state, and business success in growing sectors.

The findings, recommendations, and actions of these multi-sector partnerships are highlighted in two published reports:

Analysis of IT Workforce Needs

Technology was identified as a priority sector for talent development. The report examines the existing IT needs of Hawaiʻi companies, the IT workforce supply and demand, the fastest growing IT occupations, and the requisite skills and credentials Hawai‘i employers are looking for.
Learn more [and view report]

From Today to Tomorrow: A Talent Roadmap to Support Economic Recovery

Three strategic opportunities were developed for building a skilled workforce in growth sectors: expanding work-based learning; rapidly re-skilling and credentialling; and investing in high-priority sectors of health care, technology, and skilled trades.

This report has guided significant investment of federal resources by partners, such as University of Hawai‘i Community College system.
Learn more [and view report on talent roadmap]

The roadmap continues to serve as a guideline for colleges and businesses to partner through efforts like these:

  • Hāna Career Pathways
  • Promising Credentials in Hawai‘i
  • O‘ahu Back to Work
  • Hawai‘i Healthcare Workforce Initiative
  • Chaminade University Data Science Scholarships

HEC leaders championed an effort to get local businesses to play an active role in developing talent through training and paid internships. Pacxa piloted the Huaka‘i program, training and launching the IT careers of several new hires and supporting them to obtain industry-recognized credentials. They shared the program with business and community leaders with the intention for it to be scaled. The keen interest of legislators in promoting the model now provides good momentum for it to be scaled to reach more aspiring future IT professionals.

Ka‘ū Dream

A resilient state is built by bolstering one community at a time. One of the oldest and most remote areas in Hawai‘i, the Ka‘ū District, is also the state’s largest district. Its median income is 43 percent lower than that of the rest of the state and, like other rural communities, needs educational and economic resources for its residents to succeed.

Ka‘ū Dream is an initiative that adopts the Global Learning Lab – a model that aims to build more resilient rural communities across the world by leveraging existing community resources, accelerating learning, and creating economic viability. Ka‘ū adopted the model with a focus on education, entrepreneurship, and connection to community. Its four phases are now underway:

  • Developing earning and education spaces for the entire community
  • Creating economic opportunities to keep young talent in the district and honor the region’s cultural heritage
  • Forming agriculture partnerships to encourage agri-preneurship projects and products for the region (i.e., Ka‘ū-branded ketchup from local tomatoes)
  • Building infrastructure, such as reliable high-speed internet service

Ka‘ū students connected with MyFarm Japan and host monthly visits by Professor Naoaki Hirata to help young people think about global markets for their locally-made products. The process of reviving abandoned farmland is inspiring future ag-tech entrepreneurs. The impact of Ka‘ū Dream is also showing up in more engaged students, better attendance at school, and the formation of new business ventures by entrepreneurial students.
Learn more [about Ka‘ū dream and how to support ]